Chanthaboune and I are in the final stages of our writing contest entry. We have noticed a couple of little problems. For one thing, we haven’t given any hint of our characters’ ethnicity (except the blonde, I suppose) and, as Chathaboune points out, everyone will assume they are all white.

Chanthaboune isn’t white, so she is not being swayed by her own ethnicity, though she may be making assumptions about the readers. Do you assume that characters in books match your own ethnic background if nothing else is specified? Do you care?

There is one series of mystery novels which has a white protagonist, but for some reason she just sounds African-American to me. She is blonde, which is how I know she is supposed to be white, but reading her as white required continual mental readjustment for me, so I gave it up and simply mentally recast her as black. The author will never know.

For another thing, the 800-word summary of the rest of the book is 2500 words long.

Once we deal with these two little things, we will be set.

The Sew? I Knit sewalong has extended the bag project for another couple of weeks. This is good news for me because there is this other bag I have had an idea for, but — being a slavish rule-follower — I had decided not to make it, in order to be ready to jump right in on the next sewalong.

It started with this bag, which a friend owns. Hers is in a wonderful crimson tapestry fabric. It is clearly handmade, but also very practical, with pockets and things, and sturdy — neither of which is always true of the average handmade tote bag.

Unlike my friend, I do not have a budget that will accommodate $200+ custom purses, so I am not considering buying one. But I did admire it online, along with this one from the same designer.

It is the shape, and the pleats, that I most like in these particular bags.

One of the sewalongers hooked us up with this tutorial for a pleated bag. It is a tote bag, not what I want, but the shape of the pattern was a surprise and an education.

That led me to this tutorial for a pleated clutch. Getting closer. Hotpatterns has a pattern for something very similar.

With all these resources and a ten-day extension, I may be able to make a bag of this type for myself.

While sewing the shopping carts at work, I toyed with pleated pockets, as well as gusseted and flat ones. In the end, the free-hanging pocket turned out to be the best choice (you will be glad to know this if you ever sew a shopping cart), so I took the pleated practice piece and sewed it up into a little makeup bag or something. It looks like a skirt, maybe.

The boys thought it would make a good hat for Nadia the cat.

It does make her look a bit like an Eastern potentate, doesn’t it?

In any case, this shows that you can get something like the desired shape with a square and straight pleats, but more geometry will be required to achieve anything close to the look of the originals.

I bought a gorgeous upholstery remnant for $1.60, and also have some more canvas scraps, not to mention tissue paper, so I will be playing around with various possibilities.

If any of you has the kind of visual/spatial intelligence that allows you to look at the bags above and say “Why, of course, she needs a quatrefoil and a trapezoid!”, then please let me know.



As for the little prototype bag, it’s pretty cute. I’ve used one of my son’s handmade hemp bracelets and a toggle bead for the closure. It is big enough to hold a glasses case, but small enough to throw into a purse.

I’ll probably use it.